Placing its own financial well-being on the line, The Guardian has immediately and permanently severed all marketing links to the fossil industry, another example of the UK media outlet’s determination to lead by example in responding to the climate crisis.
The break-up was a result of “the decades-long efforts by many in that industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments around the world,” the paper writes, citing a decision by its governing board.
Rejecting fossil dollars took courage, The Guardian adds, given that advertising delivers 40% of the revenue for a media group whose board recently warned of “substantial headwinds” in 2020.
Taking principled stands isn’t new to The Guardian, however. Last year, Environment Editor Damian Carrington announced key changes to the paper’s style guide, appropriate to “the scale of the environmental challenge facing the Earth,” such as replacing the words “climate change” with “climate emergency”. The company has also committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, “while also almost entirely divesting its Scott Trust endowment fund from fossil fuel investments.”
While “some readers would like the company to turn down advertising for any product with a significant carbon footprint, such as cars or holidays,” the paper adds, extending the ban that far “was not financially sustainable while the media industry’s business model remained in crisis.”
But The Guardian is hoping its decision to ban fossil fuel adverts might end up attracting more advertising dollars from companies that appreciate its principled commitment to fighting for a livable planet.
“This is a watershed moment, and The Guardian must be applauded for this bold move to end the legitimacy of fossil fuels,” said Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK. “Oil and gas firms now find themselves alongside tobacco companies as businesses that threaten the health and well-being of everyone on this planet,” and “other media outlets, arts and sports organizations must now follow suit and end fossil fuel company advertising and sponsorship.”